Keeping the Santa-fuelled excitement out of the classroom in December can be next to impossible at times, and pupil productivity can often fall victim to the distractions of the festive season.
Christmas is a difficult time for the best of us to stay work-focused, with all the jingling and mingling (and eating) that’s on the horizon.
We’ve pulled together some quick and easy science experiments to keep the class eager to learn, and merry, during the remaining term time.
Dissolve candy canes
Make the season’s sweetest treat perform a disappearing act in front of your eyes, with a quick and easy experiment.
- Candy canes
- Four jars
- Stop watch (or your phone)
- Pen and paper for recording results
Firstly, fill your jars equally with each liquid, and ask the class to make their predictions. Then place a candy cane in each jar.
Let the science do the rest, and record the results.
This one’s a little bit messy, so make sure you’ve covered your surfaces before you start.
For this explosive activity you’ll need:
- Plastic ornaments with removable tops
- An old egg box to hold the baubles
- Old newspaper or a plastic cloth to cover your tables
- Baking soda
- Food colouring (optional)
- Glitter and sequins (optional, but life is better with both)
- Container to catch excess fizz
- Turkey baster
- A funnel to fill the baubles
Use a funnel to fill each ornament with about two tablespoons of baking soda, glitter and sequins.
Add vinegar and food colouring to a container, and using the baster, drop the mix into the bauble. Stand back and watch as the classroom erupts into a chorus of ‘oohs’, ‘ahhs’ and laughter.
Christmas time, mistletoe and slime
A Yuletide twist on sensory play, gingerbread slime is great for children’s motor skills, as well as being a fun lesson filler.
To make it, you’ll need:
- Cinnamon (1 and a half teaspoons), half a teaspoon of clove and ginger (a bit of nutmeg is always a bonus)
- Contact lens solution (make sure it contains boric acid/borax)
- Bicarbonate of soda
- PVA glue
- A mixing bowl
To get started, put 1 cup of PVA glue into a bowl, and add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Add the spices, glitter and mix together. Add one teaspoon of contact lens solution and stir with a spoon until the mix becomes stringy.
Knead the mix between your hands until it firms up and sticks to itself. If it gets too sticky, just add another drop of the contact lens solution.
Roll out the slime and have some cookie cutters on hand, and leave the rest to the kids.
Fix the fairy lights
Hands up who breaks at least one set of fairy lights every year? That feeling of digging out the lights and plugging them in to find they don’t work is all too real, resulting in a last-minute supermarket dash for a new box, because no one has any spare bulbs just lying around.
If this has happened to you this year (it definitely has), then bring in the old lights, as well as a set of working lights, as a quick-fire lesson in electrical circuits.
You will need:
- Christmas lights
- Spare bulbs
All you need to do is explain the nitty gritty of electrical circuits, and how one bulb can break the entire circuit. Then, let the pupils try and find the dead bulb on the broken set, and see if they can identify it correctly.
SAFETY: Make sure the Christmas lights are not plugged into a socket while students are trying to remove the bulbs from the circuit.
Build bridges with Christmas sweets
The gumdrop bridge building activity is a fun way of teaching your pupils about structural engineering, while embracing the Christmas spirit.
What you’ll need:
- Pencil and paper
- Gumdrops, Fruit Pastilles or Marshmallows
- LEGO men or figurines
- Lolly sticks
Get your pupils to design a structure as simple as complicated as they like, unleashing their inner engineer or architect.
Once they’ve drawn their design, hand out the materials. All they’ll need to do is link the toothpicks by using the gumdrops, constructing the bridge.
The lolly sticks can then be used to fill out the structure of the bridge, or create pathways. This is a great way for any budding engineers to find inspiration, and a great lesson filler before Christmas. The best bit? You’ll probably buy one too many bags of sweets, meaning you can indulge your sweet tooth once class is over.